The Innocence Of The Child
Many writers have found writing about the human psyche very interesting. The story, "The Child by Tiger", by Thomas Wolf, is about an African American servant who initially seems to be very skilful and moral but who turns out to be very vengeful, eventually running around, shooting up the town. People can have a hidden side to them which can be brought out by the type of environment that he or she is placed in. "Tears, Idle Tears", by Elizabeth Bowen, is about a young child and his mother during a day in the park. The young boy cries a lot, seemingly for no reason. As the story develops, the reader finds that the boy cries because his mother can't cry and, consequently, he experiences her grief for her. Some people in life seem to carry the burdens and grief of the world on their shoulders. By examining the two stories, it can be seen that both authors use the symbolism, setting, and character to prove these main ideas of the stories.
The two stories both use symbolism to clarify their themes. "Tears, Idle Tears" uses a duck to represent Frederick's alteration of personality. When he first tries to pet the duck, the duck runs down to the pond and swims away. After Frederick talks with a girl that he meets at the pond, he comes to the realisation that he's not alone, there is someone else out there that has a problem with crying. He seems to find a new sense of self-esteem because of this knowledge. In the story "The Child By Tiger", Wolfe often refers to Prosser as a cat or a tiger. These symbolic references help convey the author's message. Wolfe implies that Prosser is cunning, sneaky, and vengeful which are the qualities of the tiger. Similarly, in Bowen's story when Frederick's mother comes back for him, he is cheerful and confident. "She quickly turned her frank, friendly glance on
the lake, down which, as through to greet her, a swan came swimming...Frederick gave a
great skip, opened his mouth wide, shouted:' Oo, I say, mother, I nearly caught a duck'"(88). The swan that returns symbolises the new Frederick that his mother finds when she returns, bold and beautiful. It seems apparent that both authors use symbolism to help portray the personality of their main characters.
Although the settings of both stories are completely different, they are both very important because they lay the groundwork for the events of the story to unfold. Since "Tears, Idle Tears" takes place in a public park, Bowen is given many new options and characters to work with. Because Frederick and his mother are in the park they have access to meeting a great variety of different people. This is how Frederick coincidentally meets a girl who also knows a man who cries all the time but doesn't understand why. In "Child By Tiger" the events that occur to Dick Prosser happen because of the type of environment he is placed in. He is surrounded by a town that does not have high regard for African Americans: "What happened, what passed between them, was never known. And, besides, no one was greatly interested. It was a crazy nigger with 'another nigger's woman'"(33). Just as the park allows for certain events to happen to Frederick, the bigotry in Prosser's town slowly eats away at him until he snaps. Both Wolfe and Bowen use their settings to their advantage in creating the theme because, in both cases, the story could not have happened if the setting had been different.
In both of the stories a large portion of the narrative relies on the strong presence of character to help clarify the point that the author is trying to make. The type of character that is used in both stories is children because of their innocence. In the story, "Child by Tiger", Wolfe creates the characters of Randy Shepperton and his friends to help in the description of Dick Prosser, the main character. An example of this can be
found when the children find Prosser's gun in his room. This incident foreshadows the
future events of the story: "I was just fiction' to hide this gun away twill Christmas Day"(29). Eventually the reader finds out what Prosser really intends to do with the gun on Christmas; he runs around town shooting everyone. Because the author used children and their natural innocence, he was able to share a piece of information about Prosser without the children realising the significance of it. If Wolfe had used an adult, the adult character would have evaluated what was going on, unlike the children who just accept it because Prosser is their friend. In "Tear, Idle Tears" Bowen also brings into play the innocence of children. Frederick can't understand why he cries so much. After reading the story, however, one realises that the reason for Frederick's inability to understand his emotional problem is his innocence. Because he hasn't had to deal with many of the troubles and problems that life doles out, he isn't sophisticated enough to figure out the impact that these experiences have and why he consequently ends up in tears. The two authors also use innocent children because they offer a unbiased view of the main character. Wolfe, by having his story told through one of the children, makes it possible to have no prejudgments made before the events of the story unfold. This is crucial for Wolfe because it allows him to develop the idea that people have a evil side to them and that it can be brought out by their environment. The fact that Dick Prosser is an African American has a large impact on the story because his ethnic background and the way that his race is treated is the main reason why he ends up shooting everyone. Similarly, in the story "Tears, Idle Tears", Frederick meets a character who does not have a preconception about his personality or behaviour. Although his mother, as an adult, was embarrassed by his crying, the young girl at the pond merely accepts it. Both Wolfe and Bowen understand that the innocence of their young characters add a perspective that only young children could bring.
In conclusion, the two stories, "The Child By Tiger" and "Tears, Idle Tears", both use many different writing techniques to develop their themes. By using these techniques the authors are allowed to create main characters that can fully emphasise the point that they are trying to get across to the reader. Thomas Wolfe wants to convey the message that Prosser, like all men, has both good and evil sides. However, it is because of different environmental factors that bring out his evil side, eventually making Dick Prosser go ramped throughout the town. Elizabeth Bowen also proves her point through the character of Frederick which exemplifies that some people instinctively take on the grievances of others. Because of the technique and style utilised by both authors within their stories, each has been able to produce excellent pieces of literature.
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